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Best fitness trackers that will get you moving, from Fitbit to Garmin

Whether you use them to track your sleep, runs or cycle rides, these are the workout watches worth buying

Zoe Griffin
Wednesday 03 July 2024 10:56 BST
We went running, swimming and more, assessing how our data was presented and analysed over time
We went running, swimming and more, assessing how our data was presented and analysed over time (The Independent)
Our Top Picks

Fitness is all about consistency. Moving more will help to improve your cardiovascular health, strengthen bones, reduce excess body fat and boost muscle power. Getting started and hauling yourself out and about every day won’t always be easy, but a fitness tracker can provide motivation.

Most fitness wearables will record step count, log exercise and other activities, as well as monitor your heart rate, so you can see how much you’re doing every single day and hopefully notice improvements over time. Trackers can range in price from less than £20 to more than £400, with the more expensive options offering more features, from blood oxygen levels to a comprehensive app for accessing fitness stats and bespoke exercise programmes.

When choosing a fitness tracker, it’s a good idea to think about what it’s mostly going to be used for. If you’re only using it to count steps, the most important thing is comfort and a bright display that you can read in sunlight. If you want to take it jogging or swimming, a waterproof rating of IX7 or more and GPS tracking will give you more detailed data about your workouts.

Finally, you might want to consider how it looks. If you’re going to be wearing it all day, you need to make sure it’s the right size for your wrist and in a colour that goes with the majority of your outfits.

How we tested the best fitness trackers

We put several fitness trackers through their paces
We put several fitness trackers through their paces (Zoe Griffin)

We put each fitness tracker through its paces by using it during our swims, running between 20km and 30km and strength training. To assess how well each one performed, we compared the different metrics each device tracked, how our fitness data was presented and analysed over time, ease of use and the design of each watch.

The best fitness trackers for 2024 are:

  • Best overall – Amazfit GTS mini 4: £99, Amazon.co.uk
  • Best budget buy – Runlio fitness tracker: £17.76, Amazon.co.uk
  • Best Fitbit – Fitbit inspire 3 fitness tracker: £84, Amazon.co.uk
  • Best for runners – Garmin vivoactive 5: £229, Amazon.co.uk
  • Best for kids – Garmin vivofit junior activity tracker for kids: £59.99, Amazon.co.uk

Amazfit GTS mini 4

best fitness trackers 2024 review indybest Amazfit GTS mini 4
  • Best: Overall
  • Weight: 31g
  • Battery life: 15 days
  • Colourways: Black, blue, pink
  • Display: 1.65in
  • GPS: Yes
  • Metrics : Heart rate, blood-oxygen saturation, stress, more than 120 sports modes
  • Why we love it
    • Clear screen
    • Alexa voice controls

For less than £100, the Amazfit offers a multitude of useful features to help both beginners and sporty types take control of their fitness. We tested it when walking, running, swimming and playing netball, but this lightweight device can track up to 120 sports.

In real-time, it showed us blood oxygen levels, heart rate, step count and a GPS map of the route when we exercised outside. To ensure GPS accuracy, it draws on five different satellite positioning systems, using patented circularly polarized antenna technology, so it’s pretty impossible to get lost wearing this – even if you head down an unfamiliar route. The screen is clear and bright, so everything is easy to read, both in daylight and after dark.

We loved its Alexa voice functionality, meaning that we could make a shopping list while getting our steps in, as well as set alarms and check the weather to see if we needed a coat before leaving the house.

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Runlio fitness tracker

best fitness trackers 2024 review indybest Runlio fitness tracker.png
  • Best: Budget buy
  • Weight: 59g
  • Battery life: 7 days
  • Colourways: Black, blue, green, pink, purple
  • Display size: 1.05in
  • GPS: No
  • Metrics : Daily steps, calories burned, distance taken, active minutes, sleep quality
  • Why we love it
    • Great app
    • Offers call and message notifications
    • Very affordable

We have to admit that we were sceptical at what a tracker that costs less than £22 could offer, but we were blown away by the unbelievable amount of data this wallet-friendly option provides. It automatically tracks distance, calories and active data, so you don’t need to remember to press any buttons to record your workout – it’s all done for you.

For extra motivation, it’s super easy to sync the watch to the brand’s app, which is available for both Android and Apple users. The app provided a snapshot of our fitness activity, making us feel proud of what we’d accomplished and spurring us to do more.

As we had the tracker on for 24 hours a day, we were also able to see sleep data in the app, learning about our sleep time, deep sleep, light sleep and overall sleep quality. But what really surprised us is that it offers call and message notifications – including WhatsApp and Instagram likes and DMs – while we were on the move. This can be disabled if you prefer a bit of peace, but it’s good to have the option to stay connected if you’re sneaking a walk into the middle of a working day.

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Fitbit inspire 3 fitness tracker

best fitness trackers 2024 review indybest Fitbit inspire 3 fitness tracker
  • Best: Fitbit
  • Weight: 20g
  • Battery life: 10 days
  • Colourways: Lilac, orange, black
  • Display size: 0.7in
  • GPS: Yes, if synced to a phone
  • Metrics: Heart rate, activity tracking, stress, blood oxygen saturation, menstrual health, sleep monitoring
  • Why we love it
    • Smart wake technology
  • Take note
    • Font can be difficult to read
    • Small screen

The inspire 3 is Fitbit’s most basic, uncomplicated fitness tracker, and it’s a delight to use if you’re just getting started on your fitness journey. Many beginners make the mistake of thinking that fitness is all about being active, but by tracking stress levels and sleep, this tracker reminds us that it’s a holistic concept, too.

If you purchase the watch from Amazon, it comes with six months of premium membership to the Fitbit app, which we used to take our stress levels down a notch. We definitely felt more relaxed after following mindfulness sessions in the app, which took around 15 minutes. However, we preferred the bitesize two-minute guided breathing exercises to get us in the zone before meetings and important phone calls.

It can track 20 different sports, as well as offering a step count, showing heart rate, calories and steps from the wrist. The colour OLED display is easy to read even in direct sunlight or underwater, and as it has a waterproof screen, we enjoyed taking this swimming.

Our favourite feature is the smart wake technology, which is unique to this fitness tracker. It means the tracker vibrated to wake us up during a light-sleep stage rather than a deep one, up to 30 minutes before our actual alarm was set. Occasionally it didn’t vibrate, but when it did, we woke up feeling super refreshed and alert.

For more recommendations, read our review of the best Fitbits

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Sekonda motion smart watch

best fitness trackers review 2024 Sekonda motion smart watch
  • Best: For easy-to-read display
  • Weight: 34g
  • Battery life: 10 days
  • Colourways: Black, white, navy, burgundy, grey, rose gold, lilac, mustard
  • Display size: 1.4in
  • GPS: No
  • Metrics : Steps, distance walked, active calories burned, activity tracker, heart rate and body temperature tracking
  • Why we love it
    • Huge font
    • Shows call notifications
    • Great range of colours

If you struggle with your eyesight, this display provides the largest font size out of all the trackers we tested. Whether we were looking at the time or how many steps we did, the numbers were so large we thought they were virtually shouting the information at us. Think of it as a personal trainer on the wrist, screaming that you’ve done 6,000 steps so you only have a few more to hit your daily 10,000 target.

It tracks steps, plus five different sports, and can show heart rate and body temperature. And, when synced to a phone, it can display incoming calls and messages, as well as control your music playlist.

There are eight different colour options and we liked how it looked on our wrist, with the square display being sleek and streamlined. We even got a few compliments while testing this tracker, with people asking for more information. Everyone was pleasantly surprised by the £55 price tag, as the design is on par with the Apple Watch, which costs five times as much.

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Garmin vivofit junior activity tracker for kids

best fitness trackers 2024 review indybest Garmin vivofit junior activity tracker for kids
  • Best: For kids
  • Weight: 25g
  • Battery life: 1 year
  • Colourways: Pink
  • Display size: 0.43in
  • GPS: No
  • Metrics : Steps, sleep, accelerometer
  • Why we love it
    • Cute design
    • Makes walking fun for kids

It’s important to get kids into healthy habits from a young age, but computer games and tablets often get in the way of them going outside to run, walk or play. This cute watch turns moving more into a game, so they can earn rewards if they hit their daily step target.

Our six-year-old enjoyed wearing the watch, as she’s a big fan of Disney princesses. After we synced it to an app on our phone and she played some games, she was desperate to get outside and move, as some features of the app are only unlocked if they’re active enough.

Meeting their daily activity goals also rewards kids with colourful gems – all they have to do is tap on the map on the app to scoop them up and collect as many as they can. It’s swim-friendly and you don’t have to take it off to charge it up because the battery lasts for a whole year.

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Garmin vivoactive 5

best fitness trackers review 2024 indybest Garmin vivoactive 5
  • Best: For runners
  • Weight: 36g
  • Battery life: 11 days
  • Colourways: Orchid, ivory, metallic blue, black
  • Display size: 1.2in
  • GPS: Yes
  • Metrics : Sleep, heart rate, respiration rate, blood oxygen saturation, fitness age, energy monitor, stress, hydration, women’s health, health snapshot, accelerometer, step and wheelchair push tracker, calories burned, distance travelled, rep counting, recovery time, running, swimming, golf, cycling, outdoor activity, training analysis
  • Why we love it
    • Excellent for sleep
    • Detailed running metrics
  • Take note
    • Only 30 preloaded workout

Lightweight and ultra-comfortable to wear, we barely noticed the vicoactive when it was on our wrist. If it wasn’t for the purple providing a flash of colour from under our sleeve, we would have thought our wrist was bare, the silicone strap is that soft and unobtrusive.

It offers a morning report showing an overview of how we slept, our recovery status, a snapshot of our heart rate and what appointments we had on that day.

For sports tracking, the focus is on quality rather than quantity. It’s preloaded with 30 different workouts, which is noticeably less than others that offer almost 100. But when running, you not only get the usual step count, calorie burn and heart rate data but also training plans and insights through the Garmin Connect app.

We set a faster 10km time as a goal in the app and got daily sessions sent to the watch so we knew what we had to work on each time we went for a run. It was also cool to see VO2 max levels improve as we did these sessions, giving us motivation to keep going and boost these numbers even more.

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Honor band 7 fitness tracker

best fitness trackers 2024 review indybest Honor band 7 fitness tracker
  • Best: For counting steps
  • Weight: 30g
  • Battery life: 10 days
  • Colourways: Coral pink, green, black
  • Display size: 1.47in
  • GPS: No
  • Metrics : Heart rate, blood oxygen, sleep, menstrual cycle management, tracking across 96 sports modes, steps, calories burned, stress
  • Why we love it
    • Find My Phone feature
    • Affordable price
    • Great app
  • Take note
    • No GPS

This slim, elegant fitness tracker has just as much substance as it does style. It can track sleep tracking, your menstrual cycle, stress and mindfulness, as well as 96 different kinds of workouts. We mainly used it when running and swimming and found it easy to read in real time to see how fast we were going. The Huawei app is on par with those offered by fitness trackers costing around £100 and provides bar graphs and pie charts, which can be easier to understand than a list of numbers.

The wearable is always tracking steps as well as heart rate – the latter means that it alerted us when our resting heart rate was either too low or too high.

Another useful feature is Find My Phone. If, like us, you misplace your phone on an almost daily basis, you can ring it from the watch. This saved us a lot of time in the mornings when getting our phone, keys and wallet together to leave the house.

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Coros pace 2

best fitness trackers review 2024 indybest Coros pace 2
  • Best: For tracking sleep
  • Weight: 35g
  • Battery life: 20 days
  • Colourways: White, black
  • Display size: 1.2in
  • GPS: Yes
  • Metrics: Heart rate/underwater heart rate, barometric altimeter, thermometer, gyroscope (for training intensity), modes for running, cycling, swimming, cardio, strength and in water
  • Why we love it
    • Aids recover and sleep
    • Helps avoid injury
    • Amazing battery life
  • Take note
    • Large on the wrist

While most fitness trackers have sleep monitoring capability, they often rely on us having to press a button to activate sleep mode. Not so with the Coros pace 2, which could automatically detect when we went to sleep. Then, when we synced it to our phone, we had a great graph of how much light, deep and REM sleep we got. This helped us plan our workout for the day, and we ended up shelving a workout when the app showed us that we hadn’t achieved much rest the day before. Injuries often occur when the body is tired, so it’s very valuable to know when you’re not likely to perform at your best.

We tried the tracker with a Coros POD sensor, which clipped onto our shoelaces and provided us with even more information to help avoid injury when running or walking. It provides insights into ground contact time, left-to-right balance and stride height. Left-to-right balance data will tell you if you land heavier on a specific side so you can adjust your technique before injuries occur or work your way back from an injury sensibly.

The Coros app works well on both Android and iPhone, and connects to Strava and Training Peaks, so you can compete with, or get encouragement from, other runners and connect with coaches. They can see your sleep data, too, so they can tell if you’re ready to work hard or not.

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Wahoo elemnt rival sports watch

best fitness trackers review 2024 indybest Wahoo elemnt rival sports watch
  • Best: For triathletes
  • Weight: 53g
  • Battery life: 14 days
  • Colourways: White, black
  • Display size: 1.2in
  • GPS: Yes
  • Metrics: Heart rate, calories, tracking across running, cycling and swimming (speed, distance, workout time, swim lengths and more)
  • Why we love it
    • Automatic activity detection
    • Easy-to-read screen
  • Take note
    • Heavier than other trackers

Used by Olympic medal-winning triathletes, Jonny and Alistair Brownlee, and Ironman world champion Jan Frodeno, this is one of the cleverest fitness trackers we’ve ever seen. For example, it can switch from tracking your swims, bike rides or runs without the need to press any buttons. While we tested it while jogging around the suburbs, it would come in handy during races when we wanted to focus on performance rather than fiddling with buttons on a watch.

Even better is that if you have a Wahoo Elemnt cycling computer, you can transition data from the watch to the computer, so you can see your performance without taking your eyes off the road to look at your wrist.

The screen is easy to read and with a 64-bit colour display, it can be seen perfectly in low lighting, as well as daylight. We also appreciated its durability – the display is made from curved gorilla glass, which can be knocked or scraped without damage, and a ceramic bezel designed to be scratch-proof. For less than £100, it’s excellent value for money.

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Samsung Galaxy watch 5 pro

best fitness trackers indybest review 2024 Samsung Galaxy watch 5 pro
  • Best: For android users
  • Weight: 46.5g
  • Battery life: 50 hours
  • Colourways: Black, grey
  • Display size: 1.4in
  • GPS: Yes
  • Metrics : Sleep, blood pressure, heart rate, steps, calories
  • Why we love it
    • You can download apps to the watch
    • Google voice assistant
  • Take note
    • Short battery life
    • Very expensive

Solid and functional, the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 pro has a rugged exterior with sapphire crystal glass and titanium casing built to take on adventures. That said, where this watch really shines is in its smart features. It can take calls, send and receive messages, and offer third-party apps in its app store. Google Assistant is enabled so you can say “Hey Google” to make calls, send messages, set timers, get the weather forecast, check your calendar and more. You can download apps through the Play Store, including Strava, YouTube Music, Spotify and the meditation app Calm.

We liked that you can head straight out the door wearing this without having to wait for a GPS signal. The Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 pro can automatically detect and begin tracking walking, running, elliptical, rowing, swimming and dynamic high-movement activities. After 10 minutes of starting one of these activities, the watch will alert you that it’s tracking the workout. When you stop, the watch will automatically stop tracking, too.

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OnePlus watch 2

Oneplus best fitness tracker indybest
  • Best: For outdoor adventurers
  • Weight: 80g
  • Battery life: Up to 100 hours
  • Colorways: Blue, black and radiant steel
  • Display size: 1.43in
  • GPS: Yes
  • Metrics: Heart rate, blood-oxygen saturation, sleep score, stress, more than 120 sports modes
  • Why we love it
    • Quality leather mix strap
    • Comfortable
    • Useful sleep stats
  • Take note
    • Only syncs with Android phones

OnePlus’s limited edition Nordic blue watch 2 is a good-looking piece of kit. Straddling the line between an everyday watch smart enough for business meetings and dinner dates, and a watch that will track you cross country skiing in freezing conditions or wild swimming or diving to a depth of 50m, it combines style and substance. The strap is leather on top but fluroelastomer next to the skin, so it never chafed or rubbed when we wore it for intense exercise. It’s also comfortable enough to sleep in and, if you do that, you’ll be rewarded with graphs showing you exactly how much of each stage of sleep you had, including light sleep, deep sleep and REM. Once we heard it could withstand temperatures of -20C to 55C, we tested it while hiking in the snow and kept it on for a pore-opening sauna session. It never let us down and we really enjoyed syncing it to the app to look at both our workout and sleep stats in more detail. Just one word of warning – the app is not available for iPhone users.

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The verdict: Fitness trackers

With the ability to track 120 sports, the Amazfit fitness tracker has a lot to offer for £99.99. We liked that it has GPS in-built and that we could talk to it through Alexa, and we felt that it looked good on the wrist too, for work as well as sport. If you’re looking for something that analyses your performance in depth, the Wahoo Elemnt rival offers a huge amount of detail for under £100.

Looking for Fitbit recommendations? Read our review of the best models for tracking health and fitness

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